Volkswagen had made no secret that it was going to this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed determined to break the 20-year old hillclimb record. Mission accomplished, as the electric Volkswagen ID.R wiped a massive 1.7 seconds off the record, setting a time of 39.90secs with Romain Dumas at the wheel.

With 680hp, instant torque and four-wheel-drive at his disposal, Dumas was able to dip below the previous 41.60secs record in Friday practice, with a time of 41.18secs. Qualifying on Saturday brought perfect conditions and Dumas finally breached the 40-second barrier with that astonishing 39.90secs run. A wet track for the Shootout itself on Sunday produced a time of 42.32secs – still fast enough to win be more than five seconds and 1.5secs quicker than the ID.R went last year on a dry track.

That winning 2018 run of 43.86secs was an EV record on the Duke of Richmond’s 1.16-mile driveway. For this year’s run, Volkswagen had modified the ID.R specifically for the Shootout, using a lighter battery to drop the weight below 1,000kg and Bridgestone developed a particularly soft slick tyre to suit the run’s short-and-sharp nature. The drag reduction system was deleted as well, as the speeds reached on the hill meant it wasn’t necessary.

Nick Heidfeld had held the record since 1999, when he set a time of 41.60secs in a McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13. The ever-increasing speed of contemporary Formula 1 cars saw them banned from doing timed runs not long after. Before the ID.R came along, the closest anyone had got to beating that marker was the 42.90secs run achieved in 2003 by pro hillclimber Graeme Wright Jr in his Gould GR51.

In some ways, Heidfeld’s run was more impressive. As the side-by-side video shows below, the McLaren was absolutely all over the place, getting thrown between the lumps and bumps in the road. By contrast, the ID.R is pretty much steady as a rock.

That’s the difference made by 20 years of development in suspension, brakes, aerodynamics and tyres.

The ID.R, of course, already stands as the only car to complete the monstrous Pike’s Peak hillclimb in under eight minutes (7mins 57.148secs) and it’s the fastest EV to ever lap the Nordschleife (6mins 5.336secs). We’re not aware of any cars in the pipeline that are going to get anywhere near beating the ID.R’s unique triplet of records.

Still, we can’t help but wonder what time a contemporary F1 car would do on the Goodwood hill.

Here’s the ID.R’s winning run in the FoS Shootout.

Click here for more information

By Graham King